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9
Apr

In Your Shoes – We Visit Ocean View House

Sore feet!” was Ali’s answer when asked what she brought back from experiencing a day in the life of a guest house manager.

During her visit she learnt about choosing target markets, making sure guests are happy and comfortable, and encouraging them to tell the world about it on TripAdvisor.

Pool

Identify Your Target Market

“A great tip that I was able to bring back is to look for a target market that suits your guest house. Ocean View House‘s clients are mostly foreigners who found the property on international sites like Booking.com, Agoda and Expedia. Quite a few overseas guests arrived on the day of my visit. With their great customer service and beautiful views, the guest house converts online bookings into direct bookings when the customer books straight with them next time around.

Great Service = Happy Guests

Many may think that the advice of providing service with a smile, being friendly and going the extra mile is clichéd, but it seems to work wonders for Ocean View House. The guests don’t hesitate to go to the staff for advice and interact with them as if they are long lost friends.

Respond to Reviews

In this age of digital- and social media, TripAdvisor reviews and responding to comments in the correct way is very important to the property.  These responses will be read by many other potential guests, and can help them decide to book or to choose another hotel.

Lastly, it was also impressive to see how all employees work together and manage everyday duties (and some unexpected problems) with calmness and happiness. This is why NightsBridge and the integration with Hotelier are so imperative to them – it saves precious time they can spend on many other things!”

imageOur In Your Shoes project is an effort at familiarising our new staff with the B&B or guest house environment.

We want them to get in on the action at a client’s property and experience the variety of skills, expertise and tasks the owner or manager of a property has to juggle on a daily basis.

We have respect for how busy your day is and we think it is important to help our newbies understand the implementation of NightsBridge from your point of view.

18
Mar

Aim and shoot: Photography tips for B&B and Guest House owners

In a repost of a Springnest blog article, we take a look at how you can show off your property best through taking the right photographs.

Having good quality photographs of your establishment is a key ingredient for online marketing success. Your photographs can mean the difference between winning loyal customers or losing bookings. While it’s recommended to invest in a professional portfolio of photographs, your own camera, skills and creativity can go a long way (especially if you are looking to regularly add photos to your blog or social media channels).

We have put together a simple series of tips on how to shoot your hotel, guest house or B&B.

Leverage The Details

It’s often the small details that make your property unique from its competitors, and you should show them off as much as you can. Photos of the furnishings, fancy taps, flowers, pillows, ornaments, toiletries, treats or artworks make your website and marketing material come to life. They add character and tell your visitors something about your business and brand.

Use Light Wisely

oceanaYou don’t want your rooms to appear dark and cold, but over-exposed photographs can also do your property injustice. Shoot in the early morning or late afternoon when natural light is low. If you’re using a DSLR camera, create ambiance by shooting in the evening, with well-lit rooms and longer exposures.

Make An Effort, Tell A Story

Take a minute to plan your shoot and setting. A little effort to make your property look inviting can add significant value to your shots, without having to bend the truth (more on this next). Put towels out by the pool, leave a steaming cup of coffee in your rooms, make sure your garden appears clean and tidy.

Stick With The Truth – Don’t Oversell

While making an effort goes a long way, be careful of bending the truth. Staging a photo shoot to the point where it creates false expectations is dangerous. Setting a higher expectation than you can deliver sets you up for disappointed guests and negative reviews. When taking photographs, avoid including amenities or features that fall outside of your standard service. If you are using a wide angle lens to capture your rooms, be careful to not make rooms appear more spacious than they are.

Shoot Beyond Your Rooms

lavenderfarmIt is important to capture the exterior of your property. Include shots of your entrance, pool or function facilities, garden and parking bays. Give your guests an idea of what to expect when they arrive at your business, or step outside their rooms for breakfast in the morning.

A Thought on People & Photos

People can add a lively and human dimension and atmosphere to your photographs, if captured properly. With this said, it is important to respect the privacy of your guests. Always remember to ask your guests’ permission before uploading their photos to your website or posting them to your social media feeds.

20
Feb

Scam Alert Case 3: Please Refund Me

cash back icon

Just a note on some warning signals if clients repeatedly make changes to their bookings and request a payout or ‘credit’ for the difference.

One of our clients reported a booking made for 8 days, where after the guest started to make changes to it and requesting cash payouts for the difference. He would, for instance, change the original amount of days and ask for credit for the extra ones to be paid out.

It turns out the credit card used initially to secure the booking and ‘settle the whole bill’ never went through so he was just trying to get any amount of cash from the property before disappearing – leaving the property out-of-pocket.

It is also worthwhile to once again mention the age-old scam where the guest ‘accidentally’ added one extra zero to the amount he/she put through on a (fraudulent) credit card and want to be refunded for the difference by EFT or cash.

Some clever fraudsters request you to do them a favour and add commission onto the booking before you invoice them for the larger amount. The larger amount will then be paid with a credit card and they will request you to please pay their commission into a bank account for them. You can, of course, keep a part of it for your trouble.  Should you then do so you will find that the credit card never goes through and you just made a bad guy a bit richer.

The Golden Rule:

* Never refund with cash or via EFT for money you initially received by cheque or credit card!

Please read through our Scam Spotting tutorial to protect yourself and your hard-earned cash!
Click here — Scam Spotting Tips

12
Feb

Scam Alert! Case 2: The Rocking Robbers

thiefOne of our West Coast properties recently told us how they were robbed of valuables by seemingly ‘important’ musicians.

“We had a gent who phoned us, acting as the manager for two gentlemen flying down from Jo’burg. They paid by credit card before arrival, and were dropped off by a ‘chauffeur’ who would later return to collect them again for a ‘gig’.  They did not have too much luggage but were definitely carrying firearms in the bags.

All of our guests who stay for longer periods gets a remote to access the farm. As they booked for a longer period we gave them a remote as well. On the very same evening one of the other guests came to call us saying they saw ‘gents’ carrying a TV out of the house. As we got to the room it was cleaned out along with some other valuables from the house itself!

We thought we had procedures in place to prevent this from happening…  After this incident however, here’s our advice:

  • Be very careful with short notice bookings!
  • Check the name of the guest booking in and verify their name on the internet as well.  Someone might have possibly reported some names as ‘serial villans’.
  • If anything in the e-mail looks suspicious,  trust your instincts!

The credit card used for the booking was traced back to a person in Ireland, and the ID was altered so that it fitted the name on the credit card – so beware of that.”

More Scam Warnings: Scam Alert 1 – The Package Delivery

Please feel free to also send your submission to info@nightsbridge.co.za - we will be publishing a new story regularly.

20
Jan

Scam Alert! Case 1: The Package Delivery

We asked our clients to share some stories on scams they came across. The purpose of this is to create a forum where we can make each other aware of what is happening and what the latest modus operandi is. Please feel free to also send your submission to info@nightsbridge.co.za - we will be publishing a new story regularly.

Today we look at how a package out of the blue turned into a nasty surprise…

wine_delivery.330211100_std

The following is a recount of the incident from the victim:

Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone saying that he was from an courier company.  He asked if I was going to be home because there was a package delivery for me that required a signature. The caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in roughly an hour, and sure enough, about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and wine. I was very surprised since it did not involve any special occasion or holiday, and I certainly didn’t expect anything like it. Read more »

5
Dec

Direct Bookings From TripAdvisor via NightsBridge

You can now take direct NightsBridge bookings, via a link on TripAdvisor. Great news, isn’t it?

NightsBridge is a Premium Partner with the new TripAdvisor product called TripConnect. The new service shows your own direct booking button together with the results of online travel agents (like Booking.com or Expedia).  As a Premium Partner, NightsBridge can set up your direct link.

A Direct Booking Link on Your TripAdvisor Property Page

Connect to TripAdvisor TripConnect via nightsbridge.com

A direct link to your NightsBridge booking form will show up on your TripAdvisor listing.

If you decide to join TripConnect, an ‘Official Site‘ button will show on the prices facility. Clicking the link will open your own NightsBridge booking form to capture this booking (commission-free). You will pay TripAdvisor (TripConnect) for the click. Read more »

3
Dec

NightsBridge announces Concierge

NightsBridge Concierge now in Webview

Help your guests with bookings in NightsBridge Concierge: Available inWebview (Owner’s Login)

Concierge is an easy way for you to book activities or additional accommodation for guests, while earning commission on both.

Guests ask your advice on everything: from things to do in the area, to recommendations on where to stay next on their trip. You become a “concierge” for them, because of course you love to assist.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could earn commission on all that assistance? If you could check availability and book accommodation, activities, tours and excursions as well as car hire for them, quickly and easily?

NightsBridge brings you an exciting new service called “Concierge” and it is already available on your NightsBridge Webview (Owner’s Login).

NightsBridge puts a whole booking office filled with great ideas right in front of you.  Just log in to you Owner’s Login, choose Concierge and scroll through the options. The best part?  You earn commission for each of the bookings you make. Read more »

2
Oct

Build an Online Relationship with Your Guests

- A Guest Blog by Springnest -

The internet has revolutionised the relationship between accommodation businesses and their clients. Gone are the days when pamphlets, snail mail and billboards were the only way travel businesses could reach their clients. With digital tools at your disposal, it is much easier to communicate and build a relationship with clients. Let’s look at how you could use these tools effectively to build a stable online relationship with clients. Read more »

17
Jul

Encouraging Direct Bookings – Part I

Direct bookings save you 3rd party commission and adds directly to your profit – something all of us can do with!  Encouraging new or returning guests to rather take the direct route should be high on your priority list. Let’s discuss a few tips in this regard.

For a steady stream of direct bookings, your property has to grow its presence on search engines, social media, review sites and mobile platforms.  Take a few minutes to review your establishment on all of these.

Make Booking Easy on Your Website

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  • Make your reservations button the obvious choice!  Increase its size, choose a colour that will stand out.  Make sure your button is above the fold of the screen – most people will not scroll down further. Read more »
2
May

Impulsive Bookings via Mobile

mobilebookingform

In an article published on the Southern African Tourism Update, they discussed how travellers with mobile phones booked in a different way to those who booked through PCs and laptops.

Priceline.com did a study based on a sampling of mobile bookings made earlier this year after the Priceline app added the ability to book round-trip and one-way domestic and international airline tickets.

“Mobile-equipped consumers are what we call ‘untethered’ travellers,” said priceline.com’s Brian Ek. “They like to create their travel experiences on the fly, rather than stick to itineraries planned far in advance. Hotels are typically chosen closer to check-in day (even on the same day), and many bookings are made while on the road or after arrival in town.”

Mobile bookings could be a great way of filling up those last minute empty beds… Make sure you have a mobile friendly website and that the traveller can also book through it easily.

NightsBridge offers both of these solutions to you! Please read our article on the importance of mobile websites and get yours today!

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